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Laurie Notaro's Clean Your Plate (Then Take a Picture of It) Club

Diner cheeseburger, after.
Diner cheeseburger, after.
Laurie Notaro

When my meal arrives, whether I'm patronizing Waffle House or a restaurant with real tablecloths, that signals to me that it is time to eat. That's the green light that lets this little cow know it's time to feed.

But in some people, that gene is apparently mutated and signals to them that it's time for a photo shoot.

I've been dinner companions with these people, those who move the plate for the best light, change the filter and the lens to capture the image pristinely -- all while the rest of us look on, mumbling "not fucking again" under our breaths while our food sheds its ripeness as we wait for the Cecil Beaton of grilled cheese sandwiches to call it a wrap.

When I was in fifth grade, I made my first tomato sandwich -- Wonder bread, tomatoes, mayonaise and salt -- that spurned a lifelong affair with tomato sandwiches that continues to this day. I once had a filet mignon at Harris' that was so lovely I couldn't stop humming. A burrito at Casa Reynoso can inspire the same reaction, if not augmented by a tiny little dance. But oddly, I do not have photographs of these dear friends, nor would I have a desire to turn the pages of my Meal Photo Memories Book back to that tomato sandwich to gaze longingly at it 35 years later, even if I did.

Why? Because I'm an asshole, but I'm not that asshole.

See also: Laurie Notaro's Eight Food(ie) Terms Past Their Expiration Dates

Officially, I am a Level Three Asshole (I will laugh at people who fall down in malls, I will tell you when you are invading my personal space, and I have no problem returning over-microwaved mini-Cinnabuns to the movie concession stand for a refund), and to advance to Level Two, I'd either have to engage in food portraiture or knock old people down in the rain. (Level One is Hitler and Lena Dunham, for the record.)

So I'm staging a revolt because I'm sick of waiting for the iPhone to be put away, and I'm sick of scrolling past the result on Facebook and I'm annoyed because really, the only reason to post a meal you are paying for is to make others jealous, and that's cruel. Food should never be used as a weapon, especially if it's covered in bacon bits and cheese sauce. Besides, what really counts is what the meal looks like after you've attacked it, because those are the true results, and as a Level Three Asshole, I know that a plate of perfect food is a beautiful virgin waiting to be sacrificed and a devoured plate of food is just as revolting as a corpse dragged from the river. Enjoy!

Jimmy John's, after.
Jimmy John's, after.
Laurie Notaro

Jimmy John's Lunch Was still wearing pajamas when I got hungry on this day. Made a phone call. Was, indeed, freaked out by how fast they got to my house, even considering the delivery guy knocked on four neighboring doors before mine because the painters never put our house numbers back up. Variety of sandwich is unknown. I believe they call it "a number nine."

 

Steak dinner, before and after.
Steak dinner, before and after.
Laurie Notaro

Steak Dinner Dappled in the finest garlic salt Safeway sells, this chunk of carnivore's delight only one day past code (30 percent off) had been grilled to precise conditions as dictated on www.wikihow.com, licked by gas heat on a Weber gas grill kept hidden under our deck so junkies can't see it and steal it. Paired with an organic potato that had begun to sprout, it was roasted on the second shelf of a 1943 O'Keefe and Merritt stove until the skin was brought to the precipice between chewy and crisp, topped with two tablespoons of butter foam then adjuncted with steamed broccoli finished with a river of roux, which most people just call cream sauce.

Pork chops, before and after.
Pork chops, before and after.
Laurie Notaro

Chop Frenzy Porque chops dredged in delicately and painstakingly seasoned flour comprised precisely of a pinky nail of salt and two shakes of pepper, not once but twice to form a complete an ambrosial sarcophagus, sizzled to a Mayan Golden Brown and drizzled lovingly with a porque grease coulis featuring drippings, delectable crunchy bits and tiny translucent pools of pig fat than can reflect rainbows. Coupled with seared peas on one side that were cooked for seven minutes without proper attendance and fragranced with garlic powder, and mashed boiled potatoes, dappled with four tablespoons of Coscto butter and non-fat milk. Ah, the irony!

 

Chili dog, before and after.
Chili dog, before and after.
Laurie Notaro

Chili Dog Bonanza The finest combination of ears, lips and asshole, perfectly seasoned, encased in intestines, steamed then rolled in artery-clogging butter. Snuggled in a white, nutrionless bun and crowned with premium, glistening Hormel chili avec beans, then sprinkled like fairy dust with cheddar cheese found on sale at Safeway. Paired with russets precisely sliced and fried in old oil I save in a sticky Wesson bottle. Sure, I probably got colon cancer stage 2 just by eating this, but look at the shine on that wiener. Tell me you could resist, and then I'll tell you you're a liar.

Indian food, before and after.
Indian food, before and after.
Laurie Notaro

Indian Food Aromatic spices, exotic flavors, sinus-clearing heat! Roasted tandoori chicken, swimming in creamy sauce, saag paneer that my mother says looks like baby shit, but I say NUM. Give me more. Navartaan korma lounging like a harem girl in a the delight of yogurt, tomato and irresistibility. Now just swirls about on a plate, scooped up with naan, and devoured like a bear at a campsite with Ding Dongs. The true highlight of this meal was when I arrived to pick up my meal and the owner's son, who is six, was coloring in the waiting area and struck up a conversation with me, which ended when he told me that he had a girlfriend and then gave me a visual demonstration of his intentions with her by mouthing a bad word and then rolling the crayon between his hands. Come to your own conclusions, but I think the parents got a little too eager and open here unless there was a primal scene. And yes, with some Alka Seltzer, I can face the ferocity of tomorrow.

Diner cheeseburger, after.
Diner cheeseburger, after.
Laurie Notaro

Cheeseburger The truth is, when the plate arrived, I had my first bite before the plate left the 72-year old waitresses' hand, and it was either feast or waste precious melty cheeseburger time trying to find my phone amidst tampons and Safeway receipts in my purse to capture the money shot. I chose feast. I chose well. Shut up. I'm still enough of an asshole to grab an after shot, and behold . . . some kind of beef patty hand formed by someone who was hopefully not the guy at the grill who I saw shoving cheese into his mouth. Nestled in between halves of a bun buttered with oil and grilled, celebrated with white and yellow cheese of undetermined origin that burned and sizzled on two sides. Oooooo!! One tomato, out of season, and a scoop of potato salad that may or may not be out of a bucket. I did not give a shit. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Be jealous. You have every right. That cheeseburger left my sight savaged like an English church on Vikings.

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